In our introductory article dedicated to legal actions, we have mentioned that SHPP are being built aggressively, without going into essence and complexity of such objects, and without thinking about consequences on the geographical area where they're being built.
A big number of technical and legal irregularities can be seen following building SHPP, which have big negative effect on the environment and population living in the affected areas.
That is why DRSP Movement has decided in 2017 to turn to relevant institutions and prominent experts for their support and start tormented legal action to defend the rivers from SHPP investors.
This time we want to draw attention to the "Stance of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia on Energetic, Ecological and Social Problems of Building SHPP with long Pipelines", because the Academy was the first to warn about the unfortunate tendencies in building derivative small hydro power-plants (SHPP).
Namely, the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia (ANSI), together with the Agency for Spatial Planning has organized a round table in 2011, where they presented all possible serious consequences SHPP may cause on economical, ecological, social, but also energetic development.
At the end of 2018, and caused by more and more intensive and chaotic building of small hydro power-plants, ANSI has again approached this issue and came up with a "Stance of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia on Energetic, Ecological and Social Problems of Building SHPP with long Pipelines".
- Decree about incentives for renewable energy sources for 2019 was released without perceiving important ecological, energetic and social problems.
- Misinterpretation of the land books of SHPP, assembled in 1987 (856 potential SHPP locations), which was accepted as a starting point for issuing energetic and building permits in 2009, without previous critical analysis.
- Energetic effects are minor and have no impact on the strategy to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the overall electricity production.
- Very high benefits for SHPP and illogical order of issuing permits (energetic permits issued first, and only after that considering the impact on the environment, if considered at all), which brought to trading with licenses and bribery.
- Issuing licenses for SHPP smaller than 1MW was assigned to local municipalities, which couldn't properly evaluate economical benefit on one side and big losses on the other.
- In is unacceptable to allow building SHPP in ecologically protected areas (Stara Planina, Golija, etc.)
- What worries the most is obvious insensitivity of the investors, but also the government offices, when it comes to social trauma caused by the investors insisting on building SHPP in some rural environments.
Due to all of the above, the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, has published 9 conclusions and stances which can be downloaded from this link.
Instead of conclusion, we will quote the first two stances, which are the by far the most important...
- Prohibit building SHPP with long pipelines in protected areas, but also in all basins which are candidates for some sort of protection in future, due to their natural peculiarities. Redefine the procedure of issuing terms of nature protection where not only a Republican office for nature protection should be involved, but also the manager of the protected area, and Ministry of Environmental Protection (which is not the case now). On top, a supremacy of Nature Protection Law over Zoning and Construction Law should be achieved in the protected areas of nature. Ensure substantial involvement of local communities in the process of issuance of conditions, opinions, consents and licenses needed for building SHPP.
- Abolish, as soon as possible, the sections from Decree about Stimulation of Renewable Energy Sources Production, which apply to SHPP, because they introduce inadmissible disparity and stimulate building even those SHPP which are neither renewable nor ecologically desirable energy sources. Many countries are already questioning these privileged tariffs, some have declared a moratorium on SHPP use and some have completely abolished them, even with retroactive effect.
Author: Nataša Komljenović, graduate architect
activist of the "Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains)" movement